IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Financial crisis and human rights, redux

A few months ago I wrote about the concern that the financial crisis might have a negative impact on human rights, and therefore on peace.  A few days ago, I saw an article from BBC news saying that Amnesty International has confirmed this is the case.   In a 400 page study, which covers 157 countries, Amnesty finds that:

“The global economic crisis is exacerbating human rights abuses…In its annual report, the group said the downturn had distracted attention from abuses and created new problems.
Rising prices meant millions were struggling to meet basic needs in Africa and Asia, it said, and protests were being met with repression.”

and…

“The world’s poorest people were bearing the brunt of the economic downturn, Amnesty said, and millions of people were facing insecurity and indignity.
Migrant workers in China, indigenous groups in Latin America and those who struggled to meet basic needs in Africa had all been hit hard, it said.
Where people had tried to protest, their actions had in many cases been met with repression and violence.
The group warned that rising poverty could lead to instability and mass violence.
‘The underlying global economic crisis is an explosive human rights crisis: a combination of social, economic and political problems has created a time-bomb of human rights abuses,’ said Amnesty’s Secretary General, Irene Khan.”

The article goes on to summarize the Report’s findings region by region–it’s not a pretty picture.   However, besides the sad evidence of intensifying human suffering and mounting social stress, I was impressed by how predictable this was (as the material I summarized in my previous post indicated).  Therefore, when people argue that ” ah well, there’s not much you can do about conflict and violence, since they are just part of human nature”, we can point to the fact that well informed observers, drawing on what has been discovered and documented in the past, saw this coming.   That, in a sense is the “good” news.  The “bad” news is, obviously, that neither the means nor the will existed on an adequate scale to do much about the social “tsunami” looming on the horizon.   Apparently, we could now make “early warning” work, but we are not yet ready or able to commit the resources to adequately “heed” the warnings we receive.

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May 31, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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